I’ve heard the words “Black Friday” before. It was a word that occurred in conversations or in the media but which I never experienced till last Friday.
Perhaps I really have been living under a rock all these years. Hearing about religious experience is really one thing though — experiencing it is something completely different. That’s what it seemed like to me, Black Friday really is a religious phenomenon. Participants are both inspired and excited. They came to share the experience collectively.
Unlike the mountain side experience two millennia ago when people mostly arrived on foot, crowds on Black Friday gathered in vehicles in long lines of traffic headed for shopping areas on Gaetz Avenue in Red Deer after midday. And unlike the traditional religious message, the message of good deals for the taking flew complete over my head. Not that I’m non-materialistic in any way. I love my creature comforts like the next person. But in this instance I put my nonchalance down to being quite slow on the uptake about the inspired messages in advertisements which never provoked me into being a true believer.
Somehow words that inspired others missed me.
I could see the eagerness and the anticipation of the shoppers. In one store there were ushers directing foot traffic. At times there even seemed a camaraderie among the prospective buyers waiting patiently in shopping lines.
Black Friday, I’ve later learnt is a post Thanksgiving experience in the U.S. But why ‘black’ I wondered. One explanation relates to the choke-hold vehicle traffic has on that day; another is that store owners’ ledgers move happily from red to black.
But Black Friday also echoes another Friday, it seemed to me, where the colour black suggests a more somber religious observance. And then I wondered: is Black Friday really a prodigal strategy to align ourselves with money – making it a necessity to buy things we don’t need but which we aspire to anyway?